Chamber of Commerce Seeks More Financial Support from City

September 21, 2010
Dwayne Page

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is asking for more financial support from the City of Smithville.

Tim Hintz, Chamber President, addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night asking that the city double it's annual contribution to the chamber from $5,000 to $10,000. "It will help to fill our budget. Some of her ( Chamber Director Suzanne Williams') time is spent trying to raise money like for the Chamber banquet, the Prayer Breakfast, and things like that just to fill the budget. Our members pay dues but that doesn't pay for everything we do so we're asking for your help. In my opinion, this is a good investment in the future and it'll be returned with increased business which increases taxes and funding for the city."

The county has already doubled it's annual appropriation to the Chamber from $10,000 to $20,000.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said he wanted to see a copy of the Chamber budget before the city acts on the request.

Hintz said the Chamber would comply. The issue will probably be raised again at the next regular meeting on October 4th.

Meanwhile, in other business Smithville Police Officer Travis Bryant reported that the city has received a 100% funded grant in the amount of $25,000 through the Governor's Highway Safety Office for traffic enforcement. Officer Bryant said the money will be used to fund a speed trailer, car camera systems, light bars, and more than $11,000 to compensate for overtime of officers. The aldermen voted to accept the grant.

In other business, Mayor Hendrixson appointed Hilton Conger to fill the unexpired term of the late Dr. W.E. Vanatta on the Smithville Electric System Board. The term expires June 30th, 2012. The aldermen approved the appointment.

Smithville Police Officers David Phillips and James Cornelius, who have completed their sixty day probationary period, were hired by the aldermen Monday night.. Officer Phillips was put to work on June 21st and Officer Cornelius went to work on July 1st. Both have been earning $11.71 cents per hour and their pay will increase to $13.09 cents per hour. Both are full time certified police officers.

Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks was very complimentary of these two men "These two gentlemen have made excellent officers and I think we have really done a great job in employing them and I think they will make our community proud."

Bradley Barrett, an employee of the sanitation department, has completed his sixty day probationary period. He was hired on June 18th. His current pay rate is $10.66 per hour but will increase to $11.03 per hour. The aldermen voted to hire him.

Farron Hendrix, doing business as Smithville Golf Management LLC has given notice to the mayor and aldermen of his intention to terminate the lease agreement with the city to operate the municipal golf course and swimming pool, effective October 23rd.

Mayor Hendrixson read Hendrix's letter during Monday night's meeting. "Smithville Golf Management, LLC entered into the lease with the intent to improve and maintain a beautiful city asset for the benefit of the citizens of Smithville, our school and community golf leagues, and to attract visitors and industry to our community. We also entered into the lease, not for personal gain, but with the hopes of maintaining the golf club as a non-profit entity. However, due to the downturn in the economy, extreme weather conditions, increased competition from surrounding courses, and increased expenses, we can no longer manage this city property at our own personal expense."

"We are very proud of the many improvements that we have made during our lease agreement; improved fairways, additional tee boxes, new trees, cleaner pond, refurbished sprinkler system, and updated facilities, just to name a few. However, our tax records prove that we have lost and continue to lose money each year in the management of the property. Therefore, it is with regret that we terminate our lease agreement with this sixty day notice."

Hendrix goes on to state in the letter that the Smithville Golf Management, LLC is willing to sell equipment and supplies to the city at a reduced assessed value for continued management of the golf club. He adds "Smithville Golf Management, LLC also agrees to assist the city in the management of the golf club until the new management can be secured."

Basically, the city has two options: To re-bid the lease of the golf course and swimming pool to someone else; or the city could assume control of the operation and hire someone to manage it.

Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Steve White and Mayor Hendrixson said they have already been contacted by those wanting to put in a bid to lease the facility, but Alderman Steve White suggested that the city contact the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Recreation Educational Services Division first to see what grant opportunities are available to improve the golf course and pool operation, as well as other city owned parks and recreation areas before taking action on the future of the golf course.

Mayor Hendrixson appointed a committee made up of Aldermen Steve White, W.J.(Dub) White, and Aaron Meeks to join him in setting up a meeting with whoever the state sends here to tour the city's parks and learn more about what funding sources are available to improve and possibly expand the city's existing recreational areas.

Last year, the aldermen gave Smithville employees who have worked for the city ten years or longer a total of three weeks of paid vacation. Monday night, Alderman Steve White made a motion that these employees be allowed to exercise an option of receiving pay for that third week during Christmas time "If they do not want to use that week for vacation."

Mayor Hendrixson said the action would have to be done as an ordinance amendment. That issue will be bought back up at the next meeting.

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